Made Here: Air a’ Chanàl / Scotland’s Canals, BBC ALBA

SCOTLAND’S four canals are explored in this BBC ALBA programme – Air a’ Chanàl / Scotland’s Canals.

Begins a media release, here, about the series: “Join Calum Macaulay and Niall Iain MacDonald as they explore Scotland’s four canals – by boat, by boot and by bike!

“Along the way, Calum and Niall Iain meet those whose livelihood depends on the canal, even visiting a floating hotel, and hear from those who choose to live on, or near the water.

“In a new, four-part series on BBC ALBA, the pair discover the wonders of these waterways, meeting those who are passionate about their heritage and learn about their historical uses and the important role they play in today’s leisure industry.”

The series starts Thursday, June 8, 9pm – 10.00pm.

Here, Terry Wolsey, series producer with programme makers, Eyeline Media, answers the questions…

Who commissioned the series?

BBC ALBA commissioned Eyeline Media to make a four-part series as part of the volume commissioning deal.

Explain the thinking behind the production’s ‘look and feel’

Our production’s USP is ‘exploring Scotland’s canals – by boat, boot and bike’. There have been a number of network series about canals – all of which have tended towards history rather than canals as green pathways, accessible to all. We want viewers to be inspired by this series to go out and enjoy the canal network – by bike, boot and boat.

Who are the key personnel? How were they recruited?

For this series, we brought two well-known presenters to work together for the first time, Niall Iain Macdonald and Calum Macaulay.

Both are outdoors people who enjoy cycling and watersports, both always up for a challenge.

We pushed them to their limits in every programme! The chemistry between them is great; they developed a real rapport, with plenty of laughs on and off screen. The crew was small, only three of us, so it was full-on during filming.

What kit and software?

The main camera was a Sony FS7, supported by a PMW 500, PMW 200, GoPros, a Ronin mounted Panasonic GH3 and a drone. The series was edited on FCP7 and graded on Davinci Resolve.

What were the main production challenges?

We bought an electric bike to access the canal banks. The camera/director was initially sceptical, but it proved invaluable, getting ahead of the presenters and keeping the pace up.

The weather was our biggest bugbear. It rained every shoot  – it was so bad on the Crinan shoot they closed the canal due to flooding!

We had to go back and shoot pick-ups because Argyll is so beautiful, viewers deserve to see it in the sunshine too.

What did you most learn and enjoy from the experience?

The director felt that the use of a drone would give the production an important dimension other than from just the towpath.

However, there were so many places we couldn’t operate it, due to safety restrictions, so we had to think very carefully about where and how we’d use these shots.

Most of all this series reinforced how much fun it is working in this industry – we enjoyed every moment working with two fantastic presenters meeting lots of really interesting people, doing exciting things every day.

Whether it was abseiling down the Kelpies or battling it out in The Beast Race, we’ve had a blast. We hope viewers enjoy watching the series as much as we’ve enjoyed making it!